Money & The Economy

American Buyers ‘Retreat’ As High Mortgage Rates Strangle Housing Market

Surging mortgage rates pushed home buyers out of the market and sent volume for new applications plummeting to a 28-year-low in the week ending Feb. 24, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Wednesday.

Mortgage rates climbed to 6.71%, up 0.5 percentage points in just one month, prompting a 6% decline in applications week-over-week and a 74% decline compared to the year prior, the MBA reported. At the same time last year, rates were roughly 4%, and current rates are the highest they have been since November 2022, according to CNBC.

“Data on inflation, employment, and economic activity have signaled that inflation may not be cooling as quickly as anticipated, which continues to put upward pressure on rates,” Joel Kan, deputy chief economist at the MBA said in the organization’s press release. “Purchase applications were 44 percent lower than a year ago, as homebuyers again retreat to the sidelines as higher rates crimp affordability.”

The Federal Reserve has aggressively raised the federal funds interest rate over the past twelve months to the highest rate in 15 years in a bid to slow economic activity and reduce inflation. Mortgage rates surged past 7% in response in 2022, and, combined with rising prices and limited inventory, has contributed to an ongoing affordability crisispushingyoung Americans and first time buyers from the housing market.

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